Genome-wide association study in 8,956 German individuals identifies influence of ABO histo-blood groups on gut microbiome


Malte Rühlemann, Britt Hermes, Corinna Bang, Shauni Doms, Lucas Moitinho-Silva, Louise Thingholm, Fabian Frost, Frauke Degenhardt, Michael Wittig, Jan Kässens, Frank Weiss, Annette Peters, Klaus Neuhaus, Uwe Völker, Henry Völzke, Georg Homuth, Stefan Weiss, Harald Grallert, Matthias Laudes, Wolfgang Lieb, Dirk Haller, Markus Lerch, John Baines, Andre Franke




Nature genetics




The intestinal microbiome is implicated as an important modulating factor in multiple inflammatory(1,2), neurologic(3) and neoplastic diseases(4). Recent genome-wide association studies yielded inconsistent, underpowered and rarely replicated results such that the role of human host genetics as a contributing factor to microbiome assembly and structure remains uncertain(5-11). Nevertheless, twin studies clearly suggest host genetics as a driver of microbiome composition(11). In a genome-wide association analysis of 8,956 German individuals, we identified 38 genetic loci to be associated with single bacteria and overall microbiome composition. Further analyses confirm the identified associations of ABO histo-blood groups and FUT2 secretor status with Bacteroides and Faecalibacterium spp. Mendelian randomization analysis suggests causative and protective effects of gut microbes, with clade-specific effects on inflammatory bowel disease. This holistic investigative approach of the host, its genetics and its associated microbial communities as a ‚metaorganism‘ broaden our understanding of disease etiology, and emphasize the potential for implementing microbiota in disease treatment and management.